Blog #26 sometimes we fail

November 17, 2014

One of the hardest things about being an unschool mom is watching your kids fail. It’s probably the hardest thing for all moms, but when you are home with them all day, you need to let them fail. Somehow our American parenting style as come so full circle that it just doesn’t allow kids to feel uncomfortable, let alone, fail. It is a ridiculous notion that we as parents can prevent all heartache from our children by never letting them feel like they didn’t succeed,  but that is what hundreds of parents are doing these days. It is hard to live amongst that, and let your kid fail, but I do. Mine did. He came in last at his martial arts tournament this weekend.  He failed at the competition. I don’t care. He was ready to quit. I let him work through that without giving him any flowery speeches about the tournament being unfair, or that the judges were wrong. I just let him process those negative feelings of being a failure. He did lose. He did deserve to lose. He didn’t practice enough. He did feed his body sugar and junk food the day before. He did not go to bed in time to feel well rested. He did forget to bring all his gear. He was a mess, and I knew it before the event even started, but I let him fail because I think it is really important to know how to fail. I think it is extremely valuable to learn how to assess what went wrong with our ideas or our planning. I also think teaching kids immaculate coping skills is a key to their success in life. Everyone wants their kids to win all the time, but they will not. Especially the first time. Failing hurts, but it happens. It happens in different ways throughout life, and knowing how to assess and cope will spring rocket them so much further than padded circles of entitlement and illusions of always being great. It was not an easy week. It took Matthew several days to work through his feelings. It took me helping him to see the fault in his pre-event planning. He is a high red belt, and he contemplated quitting. Hi red is only 2 away from black, and 8 above beginner. I asked him, “Are you ready to throw all that hard work out the window for one bad tournament?” I think he just needed to hear it put bluntly. He said, “No, but I am not sure I am any good anymore. I use to think I was good.” Hmmm. So, the real lesson: Failing doesn’t mean you are not good, it means you must work differently to get where you want to go. We didn’t get much ‘school work’ done, but what a powerful life lesson learned this week.